Anesthesia has risks, but these risks can be minimized

with additional steps that are not considered

 an option in human medicine.

  1. PRE-ANESTHETIC BLOOD WORK – the internal organ function blood tests gives your veterinarian a glimpse of how your pet’s internal organs are functioning – liver, kidneys, etc.  Once your veterinarian reviews the results, they can make important decisions on the anesthesia protocol they will use and make changes it accordingly.  For instance, if your pet has slightly elevated liver values indicative of sub-optimal liver function, your veterinarian can use this information to select an anesthetic drug that is metabolized less in the liver.  Your veterinarian also could postpone any elective procedures if they feel your pet is too high of a risk for anesthesia.  Many times your veterinarian may allow you to decline this test – but there is risk involved.  Furthermore, you can opt for more extensive blood work to include additional internal organ values and a complete blood cell count.  This more extensive blood work is recommended yearly after your pet is 2 or 3 years of age.
  2. INTRAVENOUS CATHETER AND INTRAOPERATIVE FLUID THERAPY – having an intravenous (IV) catheter is important for your pet when they have IV medication given and for routine maintenance IV fluid therapy.  If there is any unusual anesthetic events during the procedure it is helpful to have an IV catheter already in place, therefore any drugs needed for arrhythmias or life threatening situations can be administered immediately.  IV fluids allow for the maintenance of your pets fluid volume and blood pressure.
  3. MONITORING – during the procedure your pet should be monitored for proper heart rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and temperature by a trained assistant. Additional monitoring devices including a pulse oximeter, capnograph, esophageal heart monitor, and / or Doppler or automated blood pressure monitor will enhance the monitoring capabilities while you pet in under anesthesia.
  4. MANAGEMENT / EXAM –Your veterinarian should examine your pet before and after the procedure and determine if your pet is fully recovered from the procedure.  Additionally, your pet may need additional drugs before, during and after the surgery.  This can range from pre-operative antibiotics and/or pain medications, including nerve blocks, or epidural injections, to intra-operative and post-operative medications.  Many veterinarians do not allow for owner’s to opt out of additional pain medications if needed.  There may be an additional charge involved.
  5. EDUCATION – A good veterinarian – patient – client relationship is essential and will help you understand what to expect for your pet during and after anesthesia and surgery.  Often this is explained as the discharge instructions and is given by a veterinary technician or assistant.  Although discharge instructions are often clearly written and very helpful, it is best to ask any questions before an unexpected problem arises at home so that you know how to react quickly.  For example, many pets can experience nausea after general anesthesia – so offer your pet a small amount of water when you get home first and if they keep it down then you can offer a small amount of food.  If they keep that down, then they most likely are not having symptoms.  If they do vomit, then they need more time and wait to introduce anything for 2 more hours.  If vomiting continues or your pet has not eaten, or seems to have not fully recovered for any reason within 24 hours, you will need to contact your veterinarian immediately.

 Ask your veterinarian for more information.


Dental Disease & Your Pet – Heather Moeser, MS, DVM

     Similar to your own teeth, normal eating activities will result in plaque and tartar build-up on your pet’s teeth.   If left for a long period of time, tarter will continue to build-up on the surfaces of the teeth and can physically grow into the gingiva (gums) causing inflammation and pain.  The real problem begins when the associated bacteria proliferate, produce toxins, and begin to destroy normal gingival structures inciting even more inflammation and pain. In some cases, this inflammation can cause bone loss which leads to loose teeth and necessary extractions.  In fact, it is common that bacteria can be absorbed into the blood supply within the gingiva.  In severe cases, this can cause systemic disease, including infections in the heart, liver and/or kidneys.

Key signs of dental disease that you may notice include discoloration on your pet’s teeth, redness of the gums, drooling, and/or bad breath.  In addition, your pet may experience discomfort or difficulty chewing and eating and may even lose teeth. Routine home care through the form of brushing, chewing devices that help your pet brush their own teeth and/or special treats or diets are necessary to reduce this build-up.  In many cases, a yearly dental cleaning by your veterinarian is necessary to remove all the plaque and tartar build-up, reduce inflammation and pain, and thus help provide the best health for your pet.  Furthermore, annual dental cleaning has the added benefit of getting rid of “doggie” breath.  February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Please contact your veterinarian for more information and the importance of your pet’s dental health.

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